Heineken Cup Pool 5: Leicester secure 41-32 bonus-point victory over Montpellier
Last Updated: 10/12/13 4:22pm
Leicester consolidated second place in Pool 5 of the Heineken Cup with a hugely-entertaining 41-32 victory over Montpellier at Welford Road.
Three converted tries in the opening 14 minutes, two from Miles Benjamin, guaranteed that Leicester were always in control of the contest, although the spirited French outfit ensured they could never quite relax and gained deserved reward for their endeavour with a losing bonus-point having matched their hosts with four tries.
Niki Goneva got Leicester's opening try and Jamie Gibson crossed to secure the Tigers a bonus point of their own on the hour, while Mamuka Gorgodze, Timoci Nagusa and Pierre Berard (two) all touched down for Montpellier.
The visitors did look poised to claim two bonus points, but an opportunistic last-gasp drop-goal from Ryan Lamb took Leicester nine clear to deny them at the last.
The Tigers made the perfect start when Goneva scored in the fourth minute; the Fiji international took a good, angled line to race through the Montpellier defence and touch down after a poor pass from scrum-half Ben Youngs was picked up by Dan Bowden and slipped to the outside centre.
Captain and fly-half Toby Flood had no problem in adding the extras before he extended Leicester's lead moments later from the penalty tee.
The visitors were soon on the board, though, through the boot of Jonathan Pelissie, but some weak defence and a strong, direct run from Benjamin saw the Tigers wing cross, Flood again adding the extras.
Leicester were running rampant down the left wing, and Benjamin added his second after Scott Hamilton and Goneva combined to release the England Saxons winger, who had only returned from a year-long absence due to a neck injury in October.
Flood again did not miss as the English side moved 24-3 ahead with just over 15 minutes on the clock.
Pelissie cut the gap from the tee after Leicester infringed as they attempted to hold up a drive and the home crowd were then left stunned when Montpellier prop Gorgodze found himself in acres of space to run 50 metres from a turnover won in the Leicester 22, with Bowden unable to stop the marauding Georgian man-mountain.
Pelissie added the conversion to reduce the deficit to 11 points with 10 minutes of the first half remaining.
Flood then tried to pour water on the resurgent French attack with a penalty from just over the halfway line but it crept wide, with Leicester then having a try chalked off after Goneva threw a terrible pass to hooker Tom Youngs, who was clean through.
Montpellier made sure their efforts counted at the other end, though, when centre Rene Ranger's break was worked across field to right wing Nagusa, who crossed on the cusp of half-time. Pelissie was unable to add the conversion but Leicester's lead had been slashed to 24-18.
The Montpellier scrum-half was off target again early in the second half with the next score coming in the 57th minute through the boot of Flood.
Leicester then claimed the bonus point-winning try just after the hour mark through flanker Gibson, with Flood missing the conversion.
The Tigers captain did add another three points, but Montpellier refused to lie down and closed the gap to 35-25 through substitute Berard's converted try.
The visitors then silenced Welford Road before having what would have been their fourth try chalked off, with Flood adding insult to injury with another accurate penalty kick.
However, Berard crossed again at the death with his score converted by Francois Trinh-duc to seemingly secure two bonus-points, but Lamb then stepped in at the death.